LEGALST 195A/H195A: Legal Studies Honors Thesis


Librarian Contact in Bancroft
Theresa Salazar, Curator of Western Americana

Introduction to Library Research Using Primary Sources

Bancroft Collections of relevance

The Bancroft Library has substantial holdings related to politics and government in California and the American West. These include all genres and formats including manuscript and archival collections, photographs and other pictorial materials, oral histories, sound recordings and videos, selected Government Documents, pamphlets and ephemera, along with books. The Bancroft Library is the largest special collections on the UCB campus, and includes both primary and secondary resources.

The collections include the papers of politicians such as Senators Alan Cranston, Thomas Kuchel, William Knowland, Hiram Johnson; of Representatives such as Meldon Levine, Robert Matsui, Thomas Lantos; of Governors such as Edmund (Pat). Brown, Culbert Olson, George Pardee, as well as many other local and nationally significant politicians.

We also have substantial holdings related to the law, including the papers of Lawyers: Charles Garry Legal Files, National Lawyer’s Guild Records, Meiklejohn Civil Liberties Institute Collections. There are pictorial materials associated with these collections, including photographs and court room drawings.

The collection also includes the Spanish/Mexican land grant cases for California which were adjudicated after the Mexican American war. These include the maps (or diseños) that were produced as part of the case file.

The Bancroft Library has many collections that relate indirectly to politics and the law including our substantial environmental collections, urban and city planning records, labor related collections, records related to agriculture and other industries in the American West, and many relevant collections. The Bancroft Library also hourse the Japanese American Evacuation and Relocation Papers from WWII and the NAACP (West Coast Region) records, along with many other collections related to ethinic groups in California and the West.

University Archives are also part of The Bancroft Library. These records include the Office of the President for the University of California and the records of The University of California, Berkeley.

The Regional Oral History Office (ROHO) is a part of The Bancroft Library. They have produced oral histories related to many individuals involved in State government as well as oral histories related to prominent individuals involved with legal issues. The oral histories produced by this office can be accessed online through their website:

Finding Resources in The Bancroft Library

Electronic access -- All formats can be searched on the University of California Berkeley Library’s online catalog Oskicat, The catalog description will include information the creator, extent of collection, subjects, any restrictions as to use, collection specific notes, and also will indicate location of material (onsite, NRLF). More extensive groupings of materials, including manuscripts and pictorial material may have detailed finding aids that will provide more detailed information about the contents of the collection. Patrons can order material online, which will be held at the Bancroft for one week at a time, and can be renewed throughout the semester. See:


California – Politics and Government.
Governors – California.
Legislators – California.
United States – Congress – Senate.
United States – Congress – House of Representatives.
Law—Political aspects – California.
Judges – California.
Freedom of speech.
University of California, Berkeley. Students – Political activity.
Academic freedom.
Loyalty Oath – California.
Legal ethics – California.
Obsenity (Law) – United States.
Japanese Americans -- Evacuation and relocation, 1942-1945.
Japanese Americans --Civil Rights
Water rights – California.
Suffrage – California.

Finding aids -- Because manuscript and archival collections are unique gatherings of materials, a finding aid in the form of an inventory, box list, or other summary of the intellectual organization of the collection is often available to help a researcher determine the contents of the materials. Finding aids provide an overview of how the collection is organized in order to facilitate access. It often will include a biographical or historical note about the creator, and include a scope and content note about what is in the collection, as well as indicate the size of the collection. Most of these are available in-house, but increasingly they are becoming available on the Internet. Access to the finding aid is essential to understanding the true content of a collection and for determining whether it is likely to satisfy a scholar's research needs.


The OAC, part of the California Digital Library (CDL) is a digital information resource that facilitates and provides access to materials such as manuscripts, photographs, and works of art held in libraries, museums, archives, and other institutions across California. The OAC includes a single, searchable database of "finding aids" to primary sources and to their digital facsimiles which are selectively available. Describing primary sources in detail, finding aids are the guides and inventories to collections held in archives, museums, libraries and historical societies. Access to the finding aid is essential for understanding the content of a collection and for determining whether it is likely to satisfy your research needs. OAC home page: 

CALISPHERE, is a website that allows patrons to search for selected images available on the OAC.

Last Update: June 13, 2014 14:32